Putin envoy and Kremlin reformer Anatoly Chubais quits regime and Russia

A top Kremlin envoy has reportedly quit his post and left the country, becoming the highest-profile figure in Russia to break with Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.

Anatoly Chubais, a veteran Russian reformer, left his post as the Kremlin’s climate envoy, a source told Reuters.

The source said Mr Chubais had left the country and had no intention of coming back. Bloomberg also reported the “bombshell” departure, citing two inside sources. Russia-based news outlets said he had resigned and was now in Turkey.

He is the highest-profile figure to step down since Russia began what it called a “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Mr Chubais, who once served as former President Boris Yeltsin’s chief of staff, was appointed to the post, which was charged with “achieving goals of sustainable development”, in 2020 days after resigning as the head of state technology firm RUSNANO, which he had run since 2008.

The source did not say why he decided to leave the country. Asked to comment by a Reuters reporter, Mr Chubais hung up his phone.

In recent years he continued to call for economic reform and was one of the most high-profile liberals associated with the Russian government.

In 2010 he warned that the rise of fascism was Russia’s single biggest threat and could rip the country apart.

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While the Kremlin has worked hard to crush political dissent and opposition to the war, flickers of defiance have emerged.

Anti-war marches with protesters chanting “No to war!” have taken place in Moscow, St Petersburg and elsewhere following the February 24 invasion, with more than 15,000 people detained, according to monitors.

A live evening news broadcast on Russia's state TV was interrupted on March 14 by journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, who walked behind the anchor and held up a handmade poster protesting the war in English and Russian. She was taken into custody and fined.

Meanwhile, reports have emerged that Mr Putin is beginning a witch-hunt inside his own inner circle to find “guilty men” behind the failure of his war strategy in Ukraine.

Sources claimed that the Russian president is “incandescent” that the US and Britain have managed to discover details of his military plans which have been passed onto the Ukrainians.

This is seen in part as the reason why leading generals – of whom it is reported at least five have already been killed in the fighting - and forces have been targeted so effectively in Ukraine.